Intelligence Tools for Remote Selling person using ipadJack Rants: Live is a weekly webcast featuring bank sales expert Jack Hubbard. Each week, Jack talks with an assortment of people from the business world including authors, bankers, and consultants.

On a recent episode of Jack Rants, he spoke with Vertical IQ’s own senior sales director, Susan Bell, who is also one of our co-founders, as well as with Vertical IQ partner Martin Wise, the founder and CEO of RelPro.

RelPro provides business development solutions to companies in the financial and professional services realm seeking Sales Intelligence on small to medium-size businesses (SMBs). RelPro integrates data from 17 different sources into one platform, and covers 17 million companies, offering small and middle-market bankers access to the prospecting contacts they need to succeed.

>> Related: Vertical IQ and RelPro Partnership Brings Key Insights to Sales Professionals

Reinventing businesses to thrive

At the outset of the pandemic, most businesses had two basic options: 1) pivot to identify new opportunities and create better ways to help the people they serve, or 2) fold. Banks, of course, went with the former. Indeed, many banks pivoted to focus on prospecting in new industry niches as a result of the “pandemic economy.”

This is in part why, during the past year, RelPro and Vertical IQ have both seen an increase in usage by bankers, who were forced to work remotely. The usual networking venues were off limits with tradeshows and community events postponed. But, with the Industry Intelligence available on Vertical IQ, paired with the Sales Intelligence on RelPro, bankers could identify new niches to pursue and then find the businesses within that industry and the key contacts at those businesses.

But just like banks and other businesses, RelPro and Vertical IQ both had to pivot to acclimate to the changes brought about by the pandemic. For instance, RelPro has added in new data sources like the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan data. This includes records on 7 million businesses that got PPP loans, who their lender was, and how much they borrowed. This is of course valuable information for bank prospecting, now and in the longer-term.

Similarly, here at Vertical IQ, we made enhancements to our site to help our customers adapt to the rapidly changing business environment created by the pandemic. As an example, last spring, we created a COVID-10 subsite dedicated to detailed information on how the virus was impacting certain industries — both those that were struggling as well those that were thriving as a result of the pandemic. We opted to make this information free for anyone to use, including the general public.

Another timely site enhancement we implemented this past year was the launch of our new credit underwriting and risk section. This data solidifies our value proposition as more than just a call preparation tool; we are also a risk rating and credit underwriting resource. We have worked with credit risk experts to develop a proprietary industry risk rating that takes into account six distinct factors including barriers to entry, cyclical sensitivity, and more. By combining our COVID-19 industry data with this new credit risk data, it gives bankers an expansive understanding of an industry.

>> Related: Boost Your Virtual Sales Results Using Industry Intelligence

The RelPro-Vertical IQ process

So, here’s how your sales process might look when you use these two intelligence tools…

You visit Vertical IQ and determine that the food distributor industry is booming amid the pandemic — that could be a good niche to pursue! You do your industry research to get up to speed on specific trends, including COVID-specific impacts within the industry. Then, you visit RelPro to identify specific food distributor prospects in your area, and then drill down to find the names and contact information for the owner or CFO.

But bankers’ conversations with prospects have evolved as a result of the pandemic too. By using both Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence, bankers can gain an understanding of trends and risks at the macro level (the industry) and then drill down to discuss how those industry trends are affecting a food distributor prospect’s specific business.

Best practices

Jack notes that too often, banks and credit unions look at Vertical IQ and RelPro and assume that these tools are too expensive. Alternatively, they look at usage data and don’t think enough of their bankers are using these tools, so they consider cutting the expense. But as Jack says, “What’s the price of ignorance?” The reality is that banks today need to put every available resource in their bankers’ hands in order to help them compete.

Indeed, maximizing usage of Vertical IQ and RelPro is how banks can get the most value out of these tools. So, Susan and Martin shared a few of their top best practices for using Industry Intelligence and Sales Intelligence most effectively.

Susan’s Vertical IQ best practice

Ownership by leadership is key to boosting usage, Susan notes, so leaders need to vocalize this on their team calls. Bankers should understand why their bank purchased these tools. They should also know that bank leaders believe in the benefits they can offer, and they expect (even require) bankers to utilize them.

A bonus coaching tip from Susan: During one-on-one coaching calls, have the banker bring with them the name of a prospect they want to call on this week, as well as the name of a current customer they plan to contact. Have them bring some Vertical IQ Industry Intelligence they found related to each of those businesses, and then work together to make a tailored call plan that incorporates that Industry Intelligence.

By putting Industry Intelligence into real-world practice, the process will eventually become a habit for the banker. Additionally, they will no-doubt get positive feedback from their customers, who will relish the insights provided by Vertical IQ’s information, which further encourages the habit with the banker.

Martin’s RelPro best practice

Martin emphasizes the importance of setting quantifiable objectives for bankers, and then analyzing the RelPro monthly and quarterly usage data to see how it syncs up with those who are hitting or exceeding their goals. (Odds are, there will be a correlation!) Since most banks don’t purchase RelPro licenses for all of their bankers, this can be a particularly useful exercise.

The 80-20 rule typically will reveal itself, Martin explains. Eighty percent of bankers will use RelPro and use it well (what you might call a “power user”), and 20 percent won’t use it or won’t use it effectively. By looking at your banker usage data, banks can reallocate their licenses to bankers who want access, thus maximizing the value the bank gets from the tool.

>> Related: Now More Than Ever, Industry Intelligence Is A “Must Have”

Complementary tools for today’s selling environment

The competition is tight out there. Bankers need whatever help they can get to move the needle and set themselves apart from all the other bankers calling on their prospects (and their existing customers, for that matter). But the pandemic has created a litany of challenges for those in sales roles, forcing them to reinvent their processes for the new remote selling world.

The changes implemented by both Vertical IQ and RelPro can help bankers make this necessary pivot and also stand out from the pack. With bank leaderships’ support, bankers can learn to use these two tools in tandem to raise the bar in their interactions with prospects. They will be armed with the Industry Intelligence needed to talk about the trends, risks, and opportunities occurring within a particular industry, and then use Sales Intelligence to discuss with decision-makers the specific ways their business is being impacted.

Vertical IQ and RelPro: a partnership that puts the emphasis on intelligence!


Image credit: Christina @ via Unsplash

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